Well hello everybody!
I just finished an article for our sister magazine Print + Promo about "consultative selling," a sales philosophy centered around solving clients' core marketing problems rather than just selling product. It's a neat idea I think, and a supposedly helpful tactic in getting your business to compete along lines other than price (helpful if you business is threatened by web stores/suppliers selling direct, since price advantage is more or less their only angle).
There are a lot of facets to the idea of consultative selling, and one I unfortunately didn't get to touch on in my article is the role artwork can play. Larry Mays, CAS, president of Boardwalk Marketing, an apparel contract decorating company located in Erie, Pa., which specializes in special effect screenprinting on apparel, was kind enough to talk to me about this role. He recently taught a class at PPAI Vegas called "How to Become A Consultative Art Sales Person," and had quite a bit of great info to share. I've trimmed down our conversation into my favorite parts, a short list on "3 Ways to be Awesome at Decorating."
1. Show Your Skills
"I believe the key is for sales people to be able to sit down with a brilliantly produced art portfolio and help a client conceive an art idea that will result in a great looking piece of apparel," said Mays. "The key is great art to show the client and a full understanding of the use of color, how an idea might work artistically and how to accomplish a sales or marketing goal through the use of a piece of decorated apparel," he said.
"How much of this consultative approach is needed if all your client wants is their logo on the left chest of their T-shirt? Obviously, not much," he said. "But if that is all your client wants, then don't be surprised when your client demands that you provide the lowest possible price for their shirts, or eliminates you altogether and buys their apparel online. It is the sales reps' job to show a client what is possible and entice the client to purchase something better," he explained. "Decorated apparel is not the same as any other promotional product. The potential for advertising impact is immense—but only if we do the job properly."
2. Leave the Art for the Artists
"Everyone cannot be a 'genuine artist' capable of producing dynamic art for premium quality decorated apparel," said Mays. "It is no different than stating that everyone cannot be a singer or professional golfer or brain surgeon. To be truly a great 'artist' being an 'artist' is something that is 'who you are—not what you do for a living,'" he said.
"Sales reps and distributors should spend their time selling and nurturing and developing valuable and lasting client relationships. Art is something to be produced by professional artists," explained Mays.
"Assume you have a client who is hosting a sales conference for their 300 sales reps. The theme is a 'South Seas Island Adventure.' They want a T-shirt that looks like Margaritaville with a parrot and a tiki bar and a margarita and messages on the sand, etc. They want bright, bold colors and they want attendees to wear that shirt 50 times. That can only be done by a creative artist."
3. Study Relevant Art as Much as Possible
"Distributors should devour art wherever they go, with the specific goal of not of becoming an 'artist,' but instead with the goal of becoming a 'consultative sales rep,'" said Mays. "I tell seminar attendees they should spend as much time as they can going to every retail store in malls that sell apparel that features art. Retail trends drive consumer interest," he explained. "I would also suggest looking in gift shops when on vacation-like Disney World or a beach resort. The more art that goes into your head the more likely you are, as a sales rep, to offer a good idea to a client. And then, provide clear instructions to the artist you work with to produce exactly what the client wants for their project," he said.
That's it for this week guys! Thanks for reading, and see you all next week!
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MONDAY MIKE FACT: Last week a reader asked to see a picture of me with my long, hippie-dippie hair. Far be it from me to disappoint, so here you go!
(Our office dress code is very strict on the "everyone has to wear a cape" point.)